“Just a few months before the end of 1910, José A. Gaviria, President of the Sociedad de Mejoras Públicas, said at one of the Society’s meetings that he wished to leave the memory of a solid creation to the future generations, something that would go beyond a purely material interest… something that would be the foundation of our future creations and a way to extend the feeling of how necessary it was to achieve them. It was imperative to create the Bellas Artes Institute. Do all those present declare it has been created? We had to say yes. And this simple word was magic, a sort of fiat lux that showed immediate results.”
Francisco Antonio Cano
El Espectador. Medellin, March 27th, 1917
Public Improvements Society [Sociedad de Mejoras Públicas, SMP] of Medellin
SMP is a private organization created in February, 1899. Its mission is to strive for the cultural and infrastructural development of Medellin.
Nowadays, SMP is mainly dedicated to recreation and education by means of the Parque Zoológico Santa Fe (ZOO), the Bellas Artes Institute (IBA), and the Bellas Artes University Foundation (FUBA).
SMP’s strategic goals are to formulate, implement, improve, and develop city programs, systems, models and processes, and to support and encourage the development of our society by means of improving public space, the environment, heritage, education, culture, and good citizenship throughout the city and the region.
The principles and values that guide the organizational culture and the actions within SMP are: good citizenship, autonomy, honesty, integrity, fairness, and quality.
Bellas Artes: Tradition, Culture and Artistic Education
In 2003, SMP decided to create a college-level institution to meet the city’s needs and demands in terms of education in the areas of Music, Design and Plastic Arts. This institution would provide society with competent and socially committed professionals.
As a result, in 2006 the Bellas Artes University Foundation [FUBA] was granted legal status by the Ministry of Education. FUBA has the Ministry of Education’s Qualified Registry for the undergraduate programs in Plastic Arts, Visual Design, and Music. The Bellas Artes University Foundation received the Bellas Artes Institute legacy. The Institute was founded in September 1910 by SMP and its classrooms were home to some of the greatest artists that have lived in Antioquia.
But Bellas Artes offers more than artistic education. It also has an extensive list of artistic and cultural events: art exhibitions, concerts, poetry recitals, and film series. These activities represent good choices for public entertainment and a way to show the talent of Bellas Artes’ students and teachers. The center of these artistic activities is the Palacio de Bellas Artes, which is a National Monument, and makes part of the Historic and Cultural Heritage of Medellin. SMP, Bellas Artes University Foundation [FUBA] and Bellas Artes Institute [IBA] main offices are located in this building, which has other important rooms, such as Beethoven Room, Antonio J. Cano Room, and the exhibitions room, Eladio Vélez.
The University Foundation was created by the SMP in 2006. Its purpose is to continue the educational work that the Bellas Artes Institute has carried out for more than 100 years. Bellas Artes University Foundation is the only higher education institution in Antioquia dedicated exclusively to education in the fields of Music, Plastic Arts and Design. Since its foundation, Bellas Artes offers undergraduate programs in Plastic Arts, Visual Design and Music. Additionally, in 2016, three more programs obtained the Ministry of Education’s Qualified Registry: Photography, Interactive Design and Advertising Communication.
In addition to that, Bellas Artes offers academic outreach courses for pregnant women, infants, children, adolescents and adults. More than 200 cultural events are held at the Palacio de Bellas Artes each year. The majority of them are free of charge. These concerts, exhibitions, academic talks, poetry recitals, etc. seek to bring art closer to the community and to promote the downtown area as the most important cultural space in Medellin.